April 13, 2019
"Don't Lose Sight of the Crucifixion and Resurrection"
One day during their recent spring break I took a couple of my grandsons over to Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park. After touring the visitorís center, museum, and gift shop, we hiked up the mountain. When we reached the top, we took a few minutes both to catch our breath and to enjoy the scenic view of the surrounding area. The sky was clear enough for us to be able to easily spot the Atlanta skyline off in the distance. Then in a different direction we could see Stone Mountain. It so happened that my daughter had planned to take the same kids to that large granite outcropping the next day. They ended up going to the top of it as well. My daughter sent me a picture of the same two boys standing there with Kennesaw Mountain faintly visible in the distant background. So in two days they got to see both of those mountains from the standpoint of the top of the other one.
Weíre at the time of year when we especially commemorate two of the mountains of the Christian faith Ė the crucifixion of Jesus and His resurrection. These two pivotal events are closely connected to one other, not just on the historical timeline but also in terms of their significance. We need to see each one in light of the other.
From the peak of the crucifixion we need to see the resurrection. It affirms that Jesusí death was not the end. It testifies to the fact that Jesus won the victory over sin, death, and Satan. And it gives us assurance about our own futures. It lets us know the grave is not the last chapter for us either. As Jesus was raised from the dead, so we will be resurrected one day (see I Corinthians 15:20-23).
Likewise, we need to see the crucifixion from the height of the resurrection. It affirms that Jesus really was God and that His death on the cross was not a failure. It was even more than the admirable death of a martyr giving His life for a great cause. It was the fulfillment of Godís plan and purposes. Looking back from the resurrection we can see that the cross was the means of our salvation. It was the spotless Lamb of God making atonement for our sins, dying in our place.
There are those around today who will downplay or even deny one or both of these important, foundational truths. Some will refuse to believe that Jesus miraculously rose from the tomb in spite of the overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Others will ignore the saving power of what Jesus did at the cross. They might focus on Jesusí example or His teachings, but donít want to talk about His blood or the idea of atonement, refusing to give any credence to the idea that His crucifixion somehow redeemed us from our sins.
Letís not allow ourselves to wander in that direction or intentionally take those turns in the road of our thinking. We need to keep our eyes unwaveringly on these two important landmarks of our faith. And we need to see them in perspective with each other. We canít separate them or try to have one without the other. From the mountain of the cross letís see the landmark of the resurrection flying its flags of victory and hope. And from the mountain of the resurrection letís view the great battlefield of the cross as the Son of God willingly giving Himself as the sacrifice for our sins.
The cross and the resurrection Ė letís stand firmly on both.